A scam, known as Classiscam, is leading users to fraudulent merchant sites or phishing pages using fake tailored advertisements. The Cybercriminals use brands that are extremely popular in Europe including, LeBoinCoin, Allegro, OLX, Sbazar, FAN. Courier, Lalafo, Kufar and DHL. Anyone tricked by the scam falls victim to payment data theft.
Security Researchers at Group-IB watched it grow from 280 scam pages to about 3,000 in less than a year. First discovered in Russia in 2019, it is now also operational in countries such as Bulgaria, France, the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania.
Commenting on the news, Tim Helming, security evangelist at DomainTools, stated:
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! There is no incentive for cybercriminals to abandon a technique that still offers them substantial rewards with relatively small effort. The premise of Classiscam is fairly simple, but some groups have gone to the length of appointing fake customer service representatives to add credibility to their operations, which attests their determination. We can expect that Classicscam cybercrime operations will try to replicate their success in the West, given the consistent monetary returns that they seem to be yielding for the cybercriminals behind them.
The best thing users can do to protect themselves from this kind of fraud is to follow the principle that whenever something seems to good to be true, it probably isn’t. It would be best to validate special offers by searching for them manually, rather than trusting a promotion appearing on a website ad – especially if the page it appears on is not particularly secure. Just like phishing scams, these ad-based operations have a strong social engineering component, and the increased recognition of security awareness training as a defence tool is bound to make it a lot harder for attackers to trick users.
Andy Renshaw, VP of payment strategy and solutions at Feedzai, added:
“These groups operate in plain sight: their ads are genuine, but victims are later directed to a malicious site where their credit card details are harvested. The reason why this type of scam continues to proliferate is that it can yield substantial returns and has a level of credibility – it is not just a matter of stealing victims’ money once, but to store their payment details and continue to steal funds until the fraud is detected. The scale of the operation is certainly concerning, but there are tools that banks can deploy to identify suspicious transactions, flag them as such, or even block the funds from leaving the victim’s account in the first place.
There is a vital layer of information that lies between what the customer sees and what the payments tells fraud analysts and systems, and where there is a solid AI algorithm in place, malicious activity can be spotted quickly and efficiently. Increased fraud detection efficiency should also be complemented by ongoing customer education, which can also dramatically decrease the number of clicks on malicious ads. Ultimately, the goal of organisations should be to make operations like Classiscam unprofitable, which is the strongest deterrent for fraudsters looking for a quick gain.“